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2010 Cleantech Open Academy: Day 1 Highlights

Posted by at 4:30 PM, 08/03/2010

Day One of the Cleantech Open National Academy was focused on creating business plans for sustainable ventures. The day began with a warm welcome by Christina Ellwood, Cleantech Open Academy Chair. Ellwood was followed by an overview of the Cleantech Open Business Competition by the Executive Director of the Cleantech Open, Rex Northern.

Next, the National Sustainability Chair, Nancy Fell, and two of her colleagues, presented on the importance of sustainability in the Cleantech Open Competition. This included the basic tenants of sustainability for cleantech startups and the resources available to the semifinalist teams.

Academy Crowd

Keynote speaker, Randy Komisar of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, spoke on “Getting to Plan B,” based on his book of the same title. Komisar advised the entrepreneurs that their first plan might always not be the best one and it is wise to be flexible with strategies. He gave the semifinalists a template “dashboard” which many attendees found intriguing. The dashboard led the semifinalists through the process of thinking about the next path to get where they are headed, or “plan B.”

Komisar was followed by a lecture about “Business Plan Essentials” by Managing Director of Claremont Creek Ventures, Randy Hawks and Cleantech Industry Partner at Halo Fund, Leif Langersand.

Regional Directors

Later in the morning, Suszanne Bell of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich Rosati spoke on the importance of patents and trade secrets.  Her lecture was followed by a breakout session where teams discussed creating IP of value to the company and to stakeholders.

Christina Ellwood and Richard Nieset began the afternoon session with information about market strategy, specifically in finding and understanding the customer. The talk also included information about value proposition and competitive advantage. Ellwood took the stage during the always challenging “post-lunch” speaking slot, but kept the semifinalists engaged and interested in clarifying their target audiences and determining their main messages. 

Christina Ellwood

Author and Professor Steve Blank gave the last riveting lecture of the day about making money by using the business model.  His session was followed by the third and final working session of the day for the semifinalist teams.

Thank you to Chevron, Autodesk and PG&E who were Day One’s corporate sponsors.

Read about Day Two of the Academy here.

Read about Day Three of the Academy here.

By Jackie Blair

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Art Rosenfeld: The Genius of Energy Efficiency

Posted by at 9:03 PM, 02/22/2010

By Uma Subramaniam, Marketing Chair, Cleantech Open

Art Rosenfeld at Berkeley

I had the privilege of chatting with Art Rosenfeld a few days ago. Now, I don't say this lightly. It truly was a privilege, and I have no qualms in boasting about it to all who care to listen. And, believe me, it is gratifying to see the awe-struck expressions.

Being somewhat new to the world of clean and green, I did not know who Art Rosenfeld was. We were at a meeting to discuss the Cleantech Open's National Launch, and somebody said that we were very fortunate to have secured Art as a speaker. "Who's that?" I asked. Well, I think most of the eyebrows around the table disappeared into their respective hairlines (almost). Now for those of you who don't know, Art is a Legend. A pioneer in the energy conservation movement, he has been one of California's Energy Commissioners since 2000 and is famously credited with the Rosenfeld Effect.

While waiting for an introduction to Art, I poked around the Web, trying to understand his background and personality. Dubbed the "godfather of energy efficiency," Art is an incredible driving force. I was humbled and moved to learn that the world and California, in particular, owe so much to Art's untiring efforts to save energy. I won't go into the details, but I encourage you to click on many of the links in this blog and applaud Art's contributions.

Art has a strikingly simple message when it comes to saving energy. Renewables are half the story-they cost money. Efficiency is the other half of the story-it saves you money. It's as simple as painting your roofs white if you live in a warm climate. Take the cool folks of Bermuda or Santorini, Greece. Amazingly beautiful places, where the roofs are flat and painted white.

That's really smart, because having a white roof delays global warming-it doesn't reflect the sunlight and consequently heat the earth. In addition, if you have air-conditioning, then having a white roof saves 10-20% of your A/C costs. Best of all, a white roof doesn't cost anymore than a dark roof. Yet again taking the lead, since 2005, California has required all flat roofs (mostly commercial and industrial) must be white. I can think of many areas in the U.S. where white roofs would make a world of difference-literally. For the past week, I've been looking at roofs with a new eye, and wondering why on earth we didn't go for flat white roofs a long time ago.

Art is big believer in long-term research. He recognizes that going from research to commercialization is a long and tedious process. But, he says, there is a lot of money available from DOE and ARPA research programs, and he encourages early stage ventures to go after these sources. If you do get funding from these programs, you have the benefit of guidance from professional managers who know the field very well. Now, I think that's terrific advice for Cleantech Open's community of entrepreneurs.

"So, you're speaking at our National Launch," I said. "What do you have to say to our contestants and alumni?"

"Work on things which are relatively simple. If you're going to solve a problem, first do it with efficiency, and then move on to supply-side development."

Art gave a terrific example of a housing builder in Sacramento who had to bring down the cooling load by 20%. So, the builder resorted to energy efficient improvements like windows, insulation, meters, etc., and spent around $3,000 per home for a 40% improvement. To get an additional 40% improvement, the builder resorted to photovoltaics, which before incentives cost around $20,000. You get the picture? Energy efficiency is just that-efficient.

Do you know what I'm really pleased about? This "gentle giant" is receiving special recognition at the National Launch on February 26 - please attend if you can to hear more from Art himself.

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